‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ Episode 1 Recap: “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”

Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Episode 1 Recap
Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan in ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ (Photo by Ray Mickshaw / FX)

The first season of FX’s American Crime Story focused on the trial of O.J. Simpson for the brutal murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Season two shifts the spotlight to famed designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) and serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). Debuting on January 17, 2018, the action in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story episode one begins in Miami Beach, Florida on July 15, 1997.

Gianni Versace puts on a robe and looks out over his estate toward the ocean. The camera pans to find Andrew Cunanan relaxing on the beach, feet from the waves. He pulls a copy of The Man Who Was Vogue from his backpack along with a handgun. After making sure no one’s watching, he checks out a painful-looking sore on his thigh and then walks into the ocean. He screams in anguish.

Back at his mansion, Gianni takes medication and heads into a courtyard of his estate, grabbing a glass of juice from a servant on the way to his gorgeous pool area. Meanwhile, Andrew makes his way down a beach path.

Gianni eats breakfast alone, poolside, while reading the paper. After a relaxing breakfast, Gianni leaves his estate and is immediately asked for his autograph. He turns the tourists down and continues on his way.

Elsewhere, Andrew races into a restroom and vomits into a toilet. Andrew steels himself, puts on a pair of glasses, and heads out of the restroom.

Gianni greets a few friends as he purchases magazines, including a copy of Vanity Fair with Princess Diana on the cover. He heads back home and is unlocking his gate when Andrew shoots him at near point-blank range. He only manages to say, “No,” very quietly before he’s shot.

The story switches to recalling events from October 1990. Andrew enters a bedroom where Elizabeth (Annaleigh Ashford) and Phil (Nico Evers-Swindell) are sleeping. He jumps in bed with them, thrilled to announce he met Gianni Versace. Andrew’s in San Francisco, partying and having the time of his life.

Andrew visits a club with a friend who has a VIP Pass. He spots Gianni Versace and can’t keep himself from interrupting the designer even though he’s involved in a conversation. Gianni is noticeably annoyed and then Andrew explains they met once before at a party. Andrew can’t control himself and brings up his mom’s love of Italy. Finally, Gianni engages in conversation, asking where Andrew’s mother’s parents were born in Italy. Andrew fills the just-vacated seat next to Gianni and they continue talking.

All this is being recalled by Andrew but he’s completely twisting the story to make Gianni the aggressor as he recounts the events at the club to Elizabeth and Phil over breakfast. Elizabeth’s impressed but Phil’s definitely not. Then Andrew reveals Gianni invited him to the opera. Elizabeth and Phil exchange knowing looks when Andrew’s back is turned, and it’s apparent they don’t believe his story.

He tells the story again, but this time to a friend as they walk through the faculty courtyard at UC Berkeley. His friend doesn’t believe him when he talks about his Versace invitation, and the friend reminds him he can’t even tell straight people he’s gay. He has a problem with the truth. His friend’s confused by Andrew’s behavior and how he constantly changes, making it tough to get to know him. Andrew swears he has a date with Gianni Versace and walks away.

Next, we see Andrew studying up on Gianni’s life and his Miami mansion. He then stands in front of his near-empty closet before wandering into Phil’s closet which is full of stylish clothing.

During this same time frame, Versace’s at work creating costumes for the opera. He explains how he’s not important and that his clothes simply serve the woman who wears them. He claims it’s all about the woman, not about himself.

Elizabeth returns home to find Andrew in Phil’s closet, dressed in a suit. She warns him he should have asked and he claims to have nothing. She compliments him, saying he looks nice in Phil’s clothes. She then loans him a gold watch to complete the outfit.

Andrew attends the opera in his borrowed clothes, visibly moved by the performance and his surroundings. When the opera ends, he wanders around the stage. Stepping into the spotlight, he takes a bow. Gianni approaches and asks if he enjoyed himself, and Andrew confirms he loved it. They drink champagne and discuss Andrew’s background. He claims to have worked on his father’s pineapple plantations in the Philippines when he was younger. He also claims his father was Imelda Marcos’ pilot. He moved to America to get the best education, saying his family’s rich from pineapples and that his dad has a boyfriend who serves as his chauffeur. His life’s been so crazy he’s writing a novel about it.

Gianni admits he’s never still enough to write. He talks about the first dress he made and how it for his sister, Donatella. He adds that every dress he makes is still with her in mind. He hopes when people wear his clothes they get to know him and realize what a love for life he has. The small talk continues as Gianni compliments Andrew, telling him he’s handsome and going to “be someone really special.”

Fast-forward to July 15, 1997 and Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin) hears the gunshot while inside Gianni’s mansion and comes running. The first person to the scene is visibly shaken, looking down at Gianni who’s lying still on the ground except for the twitching of his fingers. A bloody white dove is on the ground by his side.

Andrew smiles as he walks away but then takes off running as Gianni’s friend starts to chase him. Antonio then makes it to the door and finds Gianni stretched out on the front steps. He screams for help.

Andrew and his pursuer arrive in an alley and Andrew stops and points his gun at Gianni’s friend’s head. The chase stops and Andrew continues running. He sprints to his truck in a parking garage. Once behind the steering wheel he’s nearly hysterical over shooting Gianni.

Lots of police and detectives arrive at Gianni’s mansion as Antonio cradles his dying lover. The police beat the ambulance to the scene and Antonio screams for someone to get an ambulance.

A bystander scrambles to his nearby car and grabs a camera.

Gianni’s body is placed on a stretcher as his staff and Antonio watch from inside the gate. As Gianni’s body is loaded into a Miami Beach fire department ambulance, the bystander snaps a Polaroid photo.

Meanwhile, the police receive a report about a suspect fitting the description of Gianni’s murderer and check out the parking garage.

Gianni is taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to the head. He was found in cardiac arrest and now his pupils are fixed and dilated. As he’s wheeled through the hospital hallway, the scene switches to show a man in a red polo shirt fleeing from the police after unsuccessfully attempting to break into a car. When the police catch up to the suspect, it’s not Andrew.

Andrew, also wearing a red polo shirt, runs from the parking garage. He’s not pursued.

Doctors and nurses work on Gianni and find he has a weak pulse. Outside the hospital, the media have gathered along with a crowd. The photographer puts his Polaroid photo up for bid on the street outside the hospital, suggesting the bidding starts at $30,000.

X-rays show the bullet has lodged in an area of Gianni’s brain that isn’t operable. CPR is halted and Gianni is declared dead at 9:21am.

Andrew hops in a taxi while at Gianni’s home, Antonio is told Gianni didn’t make it. A police line holds the media and spectators back from the crime scene. However, one woman sneaks under the tape and dips a magazine ad for Versace into Gianni’s blood. She and her husband then place the ad in a plastic bag.

Andrew walks into a classy hotel and cleans his face in the public bathroom. As he’s about to leave the hotel, Andrew pauses to listen to a news report about Gianni’s murder. He mimics a concerned woman’s response, but you can see he’s smiling although his hand covers his mouth.

The police find his red truck, driver’s door open, in the garage. They discover the plates are stolen but the Vehicle ID Number matches a stolen truck that was linked to the homicide of William Reese. Andrew Cunanan is listed as the suspect in the murder and in the truck’s theft.

The FBI in Washington DC become involved in the Versace murder case, meeting to determine who they have on the scene in Miami.

FBI agents arrive at Versace’s mansion and speak with the local police. One of the agents, Agent Evans (Jay R. Ferguson), has been on Cunanan’s trail for months. Agent Evans has a truck full of FBI wanted posters featuring Cunanan who has now, with the death of Gianni, murdered five people. It doesn’t appear as though any of the flyers have actually gone out though, so local law enforcement in Miami was unaware to be on the lookout for him in their city.

Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Recap Episode 1
Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace in ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ (Photo by Jeff Daly / FX)

Donatella Versace (Penelope Cruz) arrives via private jet in Miami as evidence is being gathered from her brother’s dead body in the morgue. The white dove is also brought in so that bullet fragments can be removed from its body.

The police hold a press conference revealing Andrew Cunanan is the suspect and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Donatella walks past her brother’s blood still on the front steps as photographers and the media record her every move. She greets Gianni’s servants as she enters his home.

Detectives ask Antonio about his involvement with Gianni, informing him the staff said he used to bring back dancers, models, and escorts to the house for sex. Antonio is taken aback by that claim, and reiterates he was Gianni’s partner – not his pimp. He does admit that other men were brought to the house and sometimes Gianni would join in, and sometimes not. Antonio says the difference between him and those other men was that he lived with Gianni for 15 years. The detective asks for the names of these other men and asks if they were paid. Antonio calls Gianni a genius, and most of the time these men just fell for him.

Antonio grows angry when the detective asks if he was paid by Gianni to have sex. The detective wonders if one of those men is the one who killed Versace. Before Antonio answers, Donatella enters the room with Santo Versace (Giovanni Cirfiena), her older brother. Donatella demands the police be removed from the house.

Antonio cries as he tells Donatella the police were asking questions about her brother’s life. He reveals the police will find out everything, and she reminds him the only thing they asked of him was to take care of Gianni. Donatella warns Antonio not to speak about her brother without consulting her first.

Hours after Gianni’s murder, Antonio finally has the opportunity to wash his blood-stained hands.

Donatella meets with her brother’s attorneys, warning that the police and press will rake through her brother’s life. She talks about how her brother grew the company from a tiny store and a single rack of clothes. Their mother was incredibly proud of him as he grew the business. “He was a creator. He was a collector. He was a genius. This company was his life,” says Donatella. The company kept him alive when he was sick and she promises the company will keep his memory alive now that he’s dead. She doesn’t want Andrew Cunanan to kill her brother twice.

A statement is read in public denying Gianni or any member of his family knew Andrew Cunanan.

The media publicizes Andrew Cunanan’s photo and asks the public to be on alert. A pawn shop owner calls the police, recognizing Cunanan’s photo. She got his ID from him (and an address) and turned in the proper paperwork seven full days before Versace was shot. The police should have been aware this fugitive was in Miami.

Donatella continues meeting with attorneys about the company. He had just signed papers to put the Versace Group on the New York Stock Exchange just a week before his murder. Gianni would have wanted them to move forward on this, but Donatella thinks if they put their family company in the hands of strangers it could go against them at this time. She instructs the attorneys they won’t be listing on the NYSE and will remain a family company.

Metro-Dade Police race to the address provided by the pawn shop owner. They arrive at the Normandy Plaza and break down the apartment door. It’s a low-rent place and the man in the room claims not to know Andrew Cunanan.

Andrew, dressed in a snappy outfit, strolls the streets by the beach. No one pays him any attention and he smiles when he sees the newspaper headlines declaring Versace was murdered.

More on The Assassination of Gianni Versace:
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Episode 2 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 3 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 4 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 5 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 6 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 7 Recap
The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 8 Recap
– The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 9 Recap